Police were kept busy today as rival groups faced off at the start of the New Year protest march rally in East Point Road in Causeway Bay. As promised, pro-independence activists turned up with banners calling for a free Hong Kong.
Civil Human Rights Front said they had been ordered by officials to stop people from carrying pro-independence banners outside government headquarters. The organisers refused to do so, describing the demand as a great threat to freedom.
“Any independence advocacy is against Hong Kong’s constitutional order. The government will not allow any activities against the laws, including the Basic Law, to take place inside the East Wing forecourt,” officials wrote. However, dozens of independence protesters showed up to march nonetheless.
One protester who tried to carry an independence banner into the square was rebuffed by police.
People who were carrying the Union Jack, Britain’s national flag, or the old Hong Kong flag which sports the Union Jack were jeered at by a group of pro-Beijing supporters who told them to "go back to Britain".
The Hong Kong National Front, a pro-independence group, said its office in Tsuen Wan was broken into on New Year’s Eve. The group’s spokesman, Baggio Leung Chung-hang, said the culprits ignored the more valuable objects and only took some flags.
“They clearly did not come for the valuables, I think they wanted to make a mess and scare us,” he said.
Demosisto’s Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Joshua Wong Chi-fung were at the protest. Wong said he was there to protest against the Lantau reclamation project, which will come up for a vote in the second quarter of the year, and the abuse of judicial power by Secretary for Justice Theresa Cheng Yeuk-wah for not clearly explaining why the government decided to clear Leung in a HK$50 million corruption probe.
The march ended at Civic Square, the forecourt outside the government’s headquarters in Admiralty.